Baking soda is a fantastic cleaning agent with versatility that’s hard to match. Besides cleaning your teeth and deodorizing smelly shoes, it can also freshen laundry and clean ovens, counters, tubs, toilets and drains.

In the last few years, environmentally friendly baking soda also has become a go-to product for cleaning toilet tanks, the new standard in bathroom cleaning. I spoke with Justin Carpenter from Modern Maids, Roger Wakefield from The Trades Academy and Alexander Siv from Amherst Plumbing and Heating for their expert input on what happens when you put baking soda in the toilet tank.

About the Experts

Justin Carpenter is the CEO of Modern Maids, a leading national house cleaning provider founded in 2017.Roger Wakefield from Roger Wakefield, LLC is a master plumber with more than 40 years experience. He’s also the founder of The Trades Academy and host of the Trade Talks Podcast. Known as “The Expert Plumber” on YouTube, he regularly creates videos for his more than 1,000,000 followers.Alexander Siv owns Amherst Heating and Plumbing in Amherst, Massachusetts. He has a master plumber’s license in Massachusetts and more than 10 years of plumbing experience.

Why Put Baking Soda in the Toilet Tank?

Although the lid keeps most dust and debris from getting into the toilet tank, that doesn’t mean it can’t get funky in there. Over time, stains and buildup can develop from rust, minerals and mold. This buildup can make its way into flushing mechanisms and hasten their breakdown.

A dirty toilet tank can also contribute to a dirty toilet bowl.

Because the toilet refills from the tank after flushing, whatever’s in the tank ends up in the bowl. If it’s organic matter like mold or mildew, this can multiply when exposed to light, resulting in a bowl that’s hard to keep clean. Buildup and deposits can also smell, and who wants those odors in their bathroom?

Baking soda can effectively remedy all these issues, saving you money on multiple cleaning products. “Baking soda in your toilet tank can actually help eliminate odors in your toilet,” Wakefield says. Carpenter says it can also prevent limescale and mineral buildup.

What Does Pouring Baking Soda In Your Toilet Tank Do?

A few things. You won’t see an active fizz after pouring it in, but it naturally lowers acidity in the water and removes odors.

“Baking soda neutralizes acids,” Wakefield says, “What it is really doing is balancing the pH in your toilet tank.” That can extend the life of any working parts inside the toilet.

To clean and deodorize your tank with baking soda, shut off the water supply valve and flush to empty the tank. Pour one-quarter to one-half cup baking soda into the tank (not onto the flapper or fill valve) and use a clean long-handled scrub brush to scrub the bottom and sides of the tank. Turn the supply valve back on and flush when filled.

A naturally abrasive cleaner, baking soda works great on porous toilet tank surfaces.

Is It Safe to Put Vinegar and Baking Soda in a Toilet?

Generally yes, Carpenter says. Siv agrees, as long as it’s not in there for long. “Most owner’s manuals say to only keep water in the toilet tank,” he says. As long as the vinegar and baking soda are only in there to clean and then flushed away, it should be fine.

Combining vinegar and baking soda actually improves the latter’s cleaning abilities. “[It] creates a fizzy reaction, which can help break down stains and mineral deposits,” Carpenter says.

To do this, shut off the supply valve and flush to empty the toilet tank. Add two cups of white distilled vinegar and one cup of baking soda. Let it fizz and work for about 10 minutes, then use a long-handled scrub brush to clean the tank. Turn on the supply valve and let the toilet refill. Let the water, vinegar and baking soda sit in the tank for 30 minutes, then flush.

What Else Can I Put In My Toilet Tank To Keep It Clean?

“You can use products specifically designed for this purpose, such as in-tank cleaning tablets or solutions,” Carpenter says. Regular maintenance with vinegar works as well.

In-tank cleaning tablets

Usually a hockey-puck-sized tablet, in-tank cleaning tablets are placed in the toilet tank and slowly dissolve over a few weeks. They’re not always recommended, however, especially if they contain bleach. “Bleach shouldn’t always be in your toilet tank,” Siv says, “It can wear out plastic parts and gaskets over time.”

Look for bleach-free tablets for the best results, like Bowl Fresh Bleach Alternative Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner.

Vinegar

Adding white distilled vinegar once a month can keep your toilet tank clean as well.

Pour one cup into the tank and leave overnight, then flush in the morning. Because the vinegar doesn’t remain in the toilet, there shouldn’t be any risk of corrosion.

Toilet tank cleaner

Citric-acid based Instant Power Toilet Tank Cleaner removes hard-water stains and mineral build-up without harming working mechanisms in the tank or pipes.

Similar to vinegar, pour this product into the toilet tank, leave overnight, then flush away. No scrubbing required.

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